Monday, November 13, 2017

Clear-Eyed Humanism

Le fils de Joseph (2016) - Green
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Vincent (Victor Ezenfis) is a good kid. He's a kind of kid who shies away from fellow schoolmates torturing the rat in a trap and steals from a Hardware store but only to put the item back later, smiling to himself. He is also a serious kid who'd have Caravaggio's Sacrifice of Issac on his bedroom wall. Raised by a hardworking single mom (Natasha Régnier), he has never known his dad. He becomes increasingly unhappy about this and starts resenting his mom.

After snooping around the house, Vincent finds out who his dad is- Oscar Pomenor (Mathieu Amalric), a big time playboy and important literary figure in Paris. After gaining access to one of Pomenor's parties by pretending to be one of his literary pupils, Vincent sneaks into his posh office only to witness his dad's extramarital thryst. It turns out that Pomenor is a grade A asshole and a terrible human being, not worthy of being a dad. He makes a decision to kill him, Abraham style. But when the moment comes, he can't do it. And there in the hotel bar where Pomenor's office is located, he meets Joseph (Fabrizio Rongione), who has just been rejected a loan by Pomenor.

Joseph, a never-do-well brother of Oscar, who dreams of owning a farm in Normandy where he grew up, strikes up a good friendship with troubled Vincent. The kid, longing for a good dad and a family, in turn introduces him to his mom. The romance blossoms.

Even though Le fils de Joseph is steeped in religious references, you can't not be moved by its clear-eyed humanism. Green, a unique filmmaker whose Bressonian approach might need some getting used to, once again, makes a deeply touching parable showing that goodness exists in people. Solid performances all around. Régnier's beautiful in this. SHer subtle, warm, vulnerable performance really shines.